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'The formal powers of the Prime Minister are considerable' Discuss.

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Tom C 'The formal powers of the Prime Minister are considerable' Discuss. The Prime Minister is the leader of the party that has been voted into power by the electorate, and runs the country on behalf of the people who voted for them and the party that they represent. The current Prime Minister is Tony Blair, leader of the Labour Party. He gained a huge majority of seats in parliament, over 150 more than the other parties put together. It is due to this power, that some political commentators are linking this with what they see as arrogant behaviour in the Prime Minister. Yet the debate on whether the Prime Minister has a large amount of power for quite a while, back to a political commentator called Sidney Low. He suggested that a contributing reason to an increase in power of the PM was the 'increasing size of cabinets', which he felt 'caused the figure of the PM to stand out more...' Evidence for this can be seen even now. ...read more.


He also feels that the PM must be stripped of the ability to dissolve parliament, and move to a fixed term parliament of 4 years, with a PM only being allowed two terms in office, a move that would make the system in Britain effectively the same as in the United States. Jim Prior, who suffered disagreements with Margaret Thatcher during her term as PM, said that the power that the PM possesses in awesome and not fully appreciated. During Thatcher's term, many critics felt that she stretched the power of the position to its limits. Tony Benn also feels that the PM has too much power, stating that the powers 'encroach upon the legitimate rights of the electorate, undermine the role of parliament and effect Cabinet decision making.' There are four main areas that are suspected of contributing to the increase in Prime Ministerial power, which occurred mostly during the twentieth century (though can be seen during William Gladstone's era, mostly involve improvements in technology. ...read more.


Innovators are said to use their position to achieve things that have something to do with their particular beliefs, such as Margaret Thatcher. Reformers use their power to achieve beliefs of their party, such as Clement Atlee (Welfare State). Egoists seek power, once obtained; they seek to stay in power as priority. There is more of a desire to survive than achieve (Crossman feels that Harold Wilson falls into this category). Balancers are those who want to keep the party and country united, such as John Major, and James Callaghan. Though perhaps these characterisations should have to be taken into account that a prime minister can display more than one characteristic. Though Prime Ministers may not be all powerful. I.e. John major required influential friends, like Chris Patten, to help him stay afloat in his term, and Tony Blair requires help from colleagues, such as Gordon Brown. Also, maybe more importantly, a limitation to their power is the House of Lords, with their power to reject/accept legislation. Though many still think that 10 Downing Street is the powerhouse of the government. ...read more.

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